.50 cal vs .54 cal

Discussion in 'General Muzzleloading' started by Mavrickbobsr, Feb 11, 2019.

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  1. Feb 11, 2019 #1

    Mavrickbobsr

    Mavrickbobsr

    Mavrickbobsr

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    i am sure this has been debated to death but i need to buy a rifle and i want only one rifle and i want the right one from the start.

    which is a better killer on targets as big as elk, 50 cal or .54 cal?

    which can achieve greater speeds and which has greater kenetic impact energy?

    what i want is a nice curly maple hawken but with modern twist riffling for conical bullets and to top it off i want it to be a flint lock. no modern pellet powder but traditional swiss powder.

    help me on this please.
     
  2. Feb 11, 2019 #2

    Semisane

    Semisane

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    Well Mavrick, if I were going to build a gun with fast twist for shooting conical bullets I would not go with either of those calibers. I would go with .45 caliber with a 1:30 twist.

    I say that because I have a .45 caliber 1:30 twist Green Mountain barrel on a TC Renegade stock that shoots pretty well with 465 grain and 350 grain conicals.

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    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  3. Feb 11, 2019 #3

    dsayer

    dsayer

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    FYI need at least 50 cal for elk in Colorado.

    If I were wanting to shoot modern bullets in a fast twist barrel, I'd probably go with the 50cal just because there are more factory options available. Are you planning to cast your own conicals?
     
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  4. Feb 11, 2019 #4

    azmntman

    azmntman

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    My take on black powder hunting is you HUNT the elk then shoot it, not see it at 200-300 yards and shoot it. Yes this has caused me to spend a few more days afield on occasion (poor me:rolleyes:). That said I would suggest a .54 (or .58) and a PRB. If yer dead set on conical so be it but 100 yds and closer a PRB and a conical will both drop Mr Wapiti just fine.

    The .45 set up above with that large bullet is great as well. I prefer a larger hole at the slower speeds black powder generates. Yer choice. Good luck (and as said check the regs as some states have minimums).
     
  5. Feb 11, 2019 #5

    necchi

    necchi

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    Interesting how,, when asked about 50 vrs 54,, they answer 45 huh(?)
    (just dismiss that information)
    It's the 54 hands down.
    There is nothing a 50 can do,, that a 54 can't do better.(period)
    (and just another short share, a 54 can down right embarrass a 45.!)

    You can look at the pure ballistic data of the 50 vs 54 and sure, the 50 looks like it has greater range at max loads.
    But much to the chagrin of several here "max" loads do not equate accuracy. A 230grn ball with 90grns of powder placed accurately will out-do a 180grn with 110grns of powder 4"s off mark everyday.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  6. Feb 11, 2019 #6

    RHensley

    RHensley

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    When I was raised on the farm we killed hogs and steers for our personal use. We talked about what gun to us and always ended up with the 22 long rifle from a short Winchester short gun. Dad always said just how dead is dead. I've killed lots of deer hogs size animals with a 22long rifle. I've done the same with 45-50-54 and a few with the 58. They all eat good and were just as dead as the first.
     
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  7. Feb 11, 2019 #7

    OLD CROW

    OLD CROW

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    Dead and more dead !!!
    i'll stick with .50 cal.
     
  8. Feb 11, 2019 #8

    Phil Coffins

    Phil Coffins

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    Pigs in a pin with a mouth full of corn has nothing to do with elk. If you’re set on conicals the 50 gives the best paper ballistics, the 54 works best with round ball but you have dismissed that. Muzzle loader hunting is different then high power and trying to make a old timey rifle perform like an 7 mag isn’t going to give you the satisfaction of either.
     
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  9. Feb 11, 2019 #9

    fleener

    fleener

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    I have shot a lot of deer with a .45, 50 and .54 cal conicals.

    For my .45 and .50 I cast my own. Big heavy conicals that are over 500 grains. All of them work well. Buying a mold off the shelve or having one made is not that big of a deal.


    Fleener
     
  10. Feb 11, 2019 #10

    Nodrama43

    Nodrama43

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    50 caliber.

    350 to 450 grain projectile.

    80-100 grains of black powder.

    kill anything that walks.
     
  11. Feb 11, 2019 #11

    Sparkitoff

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    I prefer a .54 for my own hunting. With that said there are no conical bullets within hundreds of miles of me sitting on a shelf waiting to be purchased. I mail-order the conicals I like and usually get 100 at a time to cut down the shipping cost. Once in a while I will see a "pre-owned" box of conicals for sale on a forum or gun show. That may or may not work for me. They are sure to be a different weight and configuration than what I am currently sighted in with. If there are enough of them for sale at a good price I might try them. If they are accurate and will do what I need then I can move the sights until I am finished shooting them all. Then I either go back to mail-order or find another batch of "pre-owned". You can get a mold and make your own and not ever worry about this. Just find the right lead. I do not have a place to cast right now so that's not for me. Now .50 caliber - I CAN find conicals in a few places, 160, 190 and 240 miles away respectively. If I needed them quick, I could make a day trip and come home with some. When travelling, I often check stores and see .50's but rarely the .54's. So my first question is - what is the availability of bullets that you can get "today". Next question - Do you mind mail-order and wait? Last question - Are you going to cast your own? The .54 bullet my rifle likes for best accuracy weighs 535 grains. I use 80 grains of powder for the accuracy load. This is lethal on elk, bison, bears and some large exotics and African game I've taken. Frankly, it is not necessary for deer and hogs but if I am going to use this rifle that's my bullet. I'm okay with more than enough. If you go with a .50 you need to have the right conical for the biggest thing you want to hunt and just accept a little excessiveness on smaller stuff, but you have to make sure your .50 will be useful with that heavy one. With the .54 it is no different. If you cant shoot the biggest conical you want/need it doesn't do anything more than the .50 would.
     
  12. Feb 11, 2019 #12

    Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776

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    The best killer is the shot that is placed properly. So far, no one has mentioned trajectory. With a big, heavy bullet you are gaining nothing that will help you in a hunt. At ranges much beyond 100 yards the rainbow trajectory of your big heavy bullet means it will be almost falling down towards the target instead of at it. Unless you have precise knowledge of the range of the target and similarly precise knowledge of where that bullet is going at that exact distance you will overshoot or undershoot every time. I believe your imagination is carrying you into a realm that will make your dream hunting rifle a nitemare. I suggest you get your rifle in a .54 or .58 designed for patched round balls and enjoy.
     
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  13. Feb 11, 2019 #13

    FishDFly

    FishDFly

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    "what i want is a nice curly maple hawken but with modern twist riffling for conical bullets and to top it off i want it to be a flint lock. no modern pellet powder but traditional swiss powder."

    You will have to have it made, cannot think of any currently being made that meets your wants.
     
  14. Feb 11, 2019 #14

    hanshi

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    I agree with Semisane; get a .45. But if you decide on patched round ball, the .54 is the one to get.
     
  15. Feb 11, 2019 #15

    longcruise

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    The .45 loaded with 400 to 450 gr conicals over a stout charge will effectively kill anything in North America and probably most animals on this Earth.

    But, if it's to be your only gun then you need to explore it''s legality in the places you intend to hunt. For example, it would be legal in AK for anything but not legal in Colorado for elk or moose.

    The .50 is easily as deadly with only minor losses of trajectory compared to the .45. a .50 with 1:48 twist will allow both conical and round ball shooting and would be more flexible.
     
  16. Feb 11, 2019 #16

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    Couldn’t the same be said for his asking about conicals but a patched ball is talked about instead?

    Quite frankly I see the addition of calibers and projectiles not considered a good thing and for various reasons. Maybe the poster isn’t familiar. Maybe the poster is under false beliefs, as many (including myself) have been, that a ball is about worthless. Maybe giving them a bit of information not asked for can give them more to chew on and consider. It got me believing a patched ball from my .50 cal is plenty for most anything I’d want to hunt in North America.
     
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  17. Feb 11, 2019 #17

    tenngun

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    A .45 is no good if the law says .50 minimum. Should you want to shoot conical a .45 will at long range out preform the .50 or .54. In this case a whiteworth would be your gun.
    For ball bigger is better, or get close.
    For conical, when the law says .50 minimum the .50 will have a little better trajectory I think as it would have a little less cross sectional vs weight ratio
     
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  18. Feb 11, 2019 #18

    rodwha

    rodwha

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    Something nobody has mentioned yet was wind drift. Mountains are often rather breezy. A conical is far superior in this regard.

    But the idea that a conical has much more of a rainbow trajectory isn’t exactly true. I ran the numbers (900’ elevation and 10 mph cross wind with 25 yd increments) for my .50 cal using 70 grns of 3F Olde E/Swiss/T7 and the 320 grn Lee REAL with a 0.189 BC and a 177 grn ball with a BC of 0.069. The first number is the trajectory and the second is wind drift:

    The ball, zeroed at 100 yds, and starting around 1825 fps shows:
    1.1”/0.3”, 2.0”/1.2”, 1.&”/2.8”, 0.0”/5.1”, -3.7”/8.0”

    The conical starting out around 1450 fps shows:
    1.3”/0.2”, 2.2”/0.5”, 1.8”/1.2”, 0.0”/2.1”, -3.3”/3.2”

    That same conical with a zero at 125 yds shows:
    2.0”, 3.6”, 3.8”, 2.7”, 0.0”, -4.3”

    As we can all see the ball is actually coming down at more of an angle that the conical zeroed at 100 yds and striking at 125 yds. So the idea that the conical, on the same path, has more of a rainbow trajectory and is coming in at more of a downward angle.

    We also see the conical won’t be pushed anywhere near as much as a ball, and, for me at least, wind speed is harder to estimate than range out to 100-150 yds.

    We also see that the REAL, in this instance, can easily be used out to 150 yds whereas there’s no way I’d try that with a ball, especially on elk, and especially if it’s not a calm day. And what we see with the REAL sighted at 125 yds is that it’s quite good, especially on something large like elk, out to 150 yds using the point blank system, and peep sights might work rather nicely for this.

    In regards to conicals I’d think a .45 or .50 would be plenty, but with a ball I wouldn’t want less than a .54.
     
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  19. Feb 11, 2019 #19

    longcruise

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    Your information cited as a foundation is basically erroneous. Your 1450 fps for the REAL is not going to happen over 70 grains of any BP or BP sub. I'm pretty sure you have not chronographed any of the loads cited.
     
  20. Feb 11, 2019 #20

    rodwha

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    Nope. I don’t own a chronograph. But I used Hodgdon’s 2F Triple 7 data for the 350 grn Maxi and 80 grns, with the reduction general rule this should be rather close as I use both 3F Triple 7 and Olde Eynsford, which typically runs a bit faster than T7. So I’d say 1450 fps is not erroneous at all, especially considering the REAL is 30 grns lighter. If it’s off the mark a bit it’s probably a little faster. Maybe you’re right and I shouldn’t have been conservative with that number. Oh, and their data is with a 24” barrel so it could also be faster if the chosen rifle has a more typical 28-36” barrel.
     
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